News Digest – Week of Feb. 19, 2024

News Digest – Week of Feb. 19, 2024

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News Digest – Week of Feb. 19, 2024

A man, woman and three young kids wearing Happy Little 5K T-shirts, medals and bibs smile, standing in a grassy outdoor area

April’s Happy Little (Virtual) 5K is for everyone! Sign up soon.

Here are a few of this week’s stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of some of the images used in this email, and others, are available in this folder.

We’re hiring! Short-term, part-time and full-time jobs

a smiling young man in a tan T-shirt with a DNR logo stands in the window of a wooden state park contact stationIf you or someone you know is interested in working with the DNR, now is a great time to explore options ranging from full-time firefighters and summer park workers to short-term wildlife technicians and historical interpreters.

The DNR is looking for:

  • More than 1,300 summer park workers and 60 seasonal park rangers.
  • Temporary wildlife workers in positions across the state, in roles that help maintain healthy wildlife populations.
  • Full-time, peak-season and on-call wildland firefighters.
  • Foresters and forest technicians to help manage public land for varied uses, including outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, timber production and more.
  • Seasonal park interpreters to lead hikes/activities and present fun programs tied to each park’s unique natural and cultural resources.
  • Historical interpreters who will hone their skills in education program creation and presentation, exhibit development, collections care and site operations.

New opportunity: Nature Awaits

The DNR also is hiring and training seasonal educators to lead the Nature Awaits program! Through Nature Awaits – announced as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2024/25 budget in October – all fourth grade classrooms are eligible for a FREE field trip to select state parks for a hands-on experience tied to science, social studies, physical fitness and language arts curriculum standards.

Nature Awaits educators will work no more than 29 hours per week during “shoulder seasons” in the parks: April-June and September-November. Applicants must have a high school diploma, and college coursework in natural sciences, education, or parks and recreation is strongly recommended.


For specifics on each opportunity, contact individual program areas:

All DNR jobs

In addition to these opportunities, there are current postings for DNR career positions such as marketing research coordinator and fisheries research biologist manager. Visit for more information about these active DNR job openings.

Enjoy ORV riding? Help the DNR protect statewide routes

three black and red off-road vehicles drive single-file down a dirt trail in a heavily forested areaCalling all off-road vehicle enthusiasts!

Here’s your opportunity to work alongside DNR staff to help maintain and protect the more than 4,000 miles of state-designated ORV riding routes and scramble areas.

The DNR is accepting applications for an opening on the Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Workgroup, which consists of seven people each serving four-year terms and contributing as volunteers (travel expenses to and from meetings are eligible for reimbursement). The group, which works closely with the Michigan Trails Advisory Council, meets quarterly at varying locations around the state.

“Michigan’s ORV Advisory Workgroup is dedicated to raising awareness about the use of public lands by ORV enthusiasts to respect, protect and enjoy,” said Jessica Holley-Roehrs, state motorized trails program specialist. “Each person on the committee is familiar with the importance of cooperation among different trail user groups and offers their perspective on the issues facing our volunteer organizations, helps shape policy and works with the DNR trails staff to ensure the future of ORV access to public land across Michigan.”

The ideal candidate is an individual who represents ORV communities.

“Members tell us that being part of this workgroup is a rewarding experience – it isn’t overly time-consuming and provides an opportunity for avid ORV riders to share their insight and connect with others who enjoy the sport and want to contribute to our state’s ORV opportunities,” Holley-Roehrs said.

With thousands of miles of state-designated ORV trails, scramble areas, (eligible) county, state forest and national forest roads, and frozen surfaces of public waters, Michigan is a top destination for ORV riders of all levels.

Interested? Apply for the position by filling out this form. The DNR will accept applications through March 15. For more information, contact Anna Centofanti at 517-331-6219.

Gear up, get moving – for trees! Two fun 5Ks coming up

color graphic of words Lumberjack Pancake Run, 5K and Fun Run, Saturday, March 23. Design has red and black plaid, trees and saw bladeThe celebration of trees is part of two spring 5K run/walk events organized by the DNR, and you can join the fun.

First up: the March 23 Lumberjack Pancake Run, which takes place along the Dequindre Cut in Detroit and honors Michigan’s lumber history. You’ll get a custom medal, lumberjack buff, Outdoor Adventure Center entry and a pancake breakfast.

Wear your finest flannel apparel or sport your best lumberjack beard. If family and friends want to join the pancake breakfast, extra food tickets are available for $5 each. Stick around after breakfast for the Outdoor Adventure Center’s Lumberjack Day, featuring maple syrup tasting, a chainsaw artist demo and more.

“The theme of the race was chosen to honor and open discussions about the importance of the lumber era in Michigan’s history,” said Patrick Endres, interpreter at the OAC. “Lumberjack Day is all about celebrating Michigan forests by highlighting natural and cultural topics through hands-on activities and sharing historical information.”

Questions? Contact Patrick Endres at [email protected] or Emily Grant at [email protected].

Support tree-planting efforts

rectangle green and white graphic with Bob Ross likeness, trees and words April 22-26, 2024, Run for the Trees, Happy Little (Virtual) 5kTake part in the April 22-26 Run for the Trees: Happy Little (Virtual) 5K, an event that started in Michigan and has expanded to include tree-planting efforts in nine other states. In addition to a T-shirt, medal and bib, you’ll receive a happy little sticker as a thank-you for your continued support of tree plantings.

“This virtual race is a perfect trifecta: people being active and spending time outdoors, celebrating their love of trees and honoring legendary artist and outdoor enthusiast Bob Ross,” said Michelle O’Kelly, fund developer and Happy Little Trees race director for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “We are incredibly proud to be helping expand this positive impact across the United States.”

Race packets will start shipping March 1. To guarantee shipment before the race, please register by April 1. Online registration closes April 15.

Questions? Contact Michelle O’Kelly at [email protected].

Photo ambassador snapshot: Winter grandeur at Grand Haven

snow and ice on the shore in foreground as a fiery orange and pink sunset backlights the pier and lighthouse at Grand HavenSee more pictures by Michigan state parks photo ambassadors at For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. (This photo is by Sarah Goodwin, for the Michigan DNR, at Grand Haven State Park in Ottawa County).


Ever wonder how the DNR hatches, raises and stocks millions of walleye, salmon and other species every year? Plan a visit to one of the state’s six fish hatcheries and find out. It’s an eye-opening experience!


Is your community or organization looking to create more public recreation resources, healthier wildlife habitat or safer, more vibrant areas? Check out DNR-administered grant programs for eligibility guidelines.


Hunting or fishing out of season, “owning” or raising a wild animal without proper permit – these actions threaten Michigan’s wildlife. If you witness these or other violations, call or text Report All Poaching at 800-292-7800.

DNR News Digest – Week of Feb. 12, 2024

DNR News Digest – Week of Feb. 12, 2024

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News Digest – Week of Feb. 12, 2024

a woman and man kneel beside a little boy in a wheelchair. They are inside a building, next to a contained water feature with variety of plants

Worth the trip in any season: the Outdoor Adventure Center in downtown Detroit

Here are a few of this week’s stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of some of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

Winter Free Fishing Weekend starts Saturday

smiling little girl in blue winter coat holds a fish in both hands as a smiling little boy in blue winter coat and Superman hat leans next to herReady for some outdoor fun with family and friends? Join in this winter’s Free Fishing Weekend – Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-18 – two full days when residents and visitors can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

It’s a great time to get out and explore: During Free Fishing Weekend, the DNR also waives the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and more than 1,300 DNR-managed boating access sites.

Michigan has celebrated Free Fishing Weekend every year since 1986 to promote awareness of the state’s fine fishing and vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, over 52,000 miles of rivers and streams and 10,899 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a perfect match.

Before heading out, make sure you and your fishing buddies are prepared for changing winter weather. As always, brush up on our ice safety tips at, too.

If you already have a fishing license, take someone new along for the fun and fish tales! Learn more at and get the most current fishing regulations at

Questions? Contact Sierra Williams at [email protected].

Small stature, big personality: Winter birds of Michigan

It’s probably no surprise, but this colder time of year is when Michigan’s winter birds are most resilient. How do these small birds thrive when temperatures drop? From storing food to fluffing up their feathers, Michigan’s birds are masters at doing what it takes to weather our winters.

We’re highlighting a couple of our favorite winter birds that have adapted to freezing temperatures across the state. Learn how they stay warm, how to identify them and where to spot them!

Downy woodpecker

a white-breasted woodpecker with black and white wings and a hint of red on top of head stands on a pale, tan, snow-dusted tree limbFun winter facts: An advantage in the winter, the downy woodpecker’s small size allows it to feed on small weed stalks and in large trees. Downies construct new tree cavities in the fall, where they roost and keep warm during cold winter nights.

How to ID: This is the smallest woodpecker in North America, between the size of a robin and sparrow. It has a white back, black and white striped face and a very short, stubby bill. Males have a red spot on the nape (back of the neck).

Black-capped chickadee

a red house finch, American goldfinch and black-capped chickadee perched on a hanging, spherical, mesh seed feederFun winter facts: Storing food from bird feeders in bark crevices helps chickadees late in winter when other food sources are scarce or trapped under snow or ice. Chickadees are also experts in shivering to stay warm. They can control and lower their body temperature to conserve energy at night, entering what is known as regulated hypothermia!

How to ID: These small and lively birds have a black cap and bib, gray back and buff wash on their sides.

Finding winter birds in Michigan

When you’re dressed for the elements, winter can be an exciting time to go birding. Look for winter birds in forests and woodlands or along woodland edges, grassy and weedy fields, and city and suburban parks and yards.

Go birding on your local public lands, such as Audubon Important Bird Areas, or IBAs, state game and wildlife areas and Wetland WondersLearn more about Michigan’s birding trails and where to go birding this winter.

Check out the MI Birds blog at the Audubon Great Lakes website for the full story about winter birds in Michigan.

For media questions, contact Erin Ford at 313-820-0809.

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program presented by Audubon Great Lakes and the Michigan DNR that works to build and bring together wildlife enthusiasts across the state to engage with and conserve Michigan’s public lands for the benefit of birds and people.

This week on ‘Wardens’: PaddleFit yoga, summer lake patrols

a man in sunglasses and conservation officer uniform drives a boat on open blue water, with another man in uniform sitting behind himNeed a little warm-weather inspiration? Catch the next episode of “Wardens” – the Outdoor Channel’s weekly show that tells the story of dedicated DNR conservation officers and other staff members and the work they do to protect and conserve Michigan’s natural resources.

This week’s show – here’s a teaser video – airs Friday and takes you to PaddleFit yoga classes at several state parks and summertime lake patrols in southeast Michigan.

To get the Outdoor Channel, ask your local TV service provider or go to or Amazon Prime Video, or call 855-44-OUTDOOR. More than 78 episodes of “Wardens” have featured Michigan and tallied over 36 million viewers!

Episodes air on the Outdoor Channel every Friday at 9 p.m. Previous episodes air on FOX UP/WLUC-TV6 every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The show also is available under the title “Wardens of the North” or “Michigan Wardens” on Animal Planet.

Questions? Contact Dave Haupt at 517-420-0819.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Winter’s brilliant blues

snow-covered rocks on shore and calm, gray-blue water stretch out beneath a brilliant blue winter sky framed by a few white, wispy cloudsSee more pictures by Michigan state parks photo ambassadors at For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. (This photo is by Brandon Johnson, for the Michigan DNR, at Hog Island Point State Forest Campground on the shore of Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.)


From Wild Science Saturdays at the Outdoor Adventure Center to fat-tire biking at Silver Lake State Park, explore the DNR events calendar to plan your next outing.


Love staying overnight in Michigan state parks and harbors? Apply now for the opportunity to be a campground or harbor host; it just might be your perfect volunteer gig!


Learning how to spot and prevent invasive land and water pests is everyone’s job. The 2024 NotMiSpecies webinar series can help! Check out the schedule and get in the know.

DNR News: Bird feeding 101, new ‘Wildtalk’ and ‘Wardens’

DNR News: Bird feeding 101, new ‘Wildtalk’ and ‘Wardens’

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News Digest – Week of Feb. 5, 2024

light snow covers a red picnic table, the ground and edges of tree branches in the forest, with sunlight filtering through
Here are a few of this week’s stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of many of the images used below are available in this folder.

February ‘Wildtalk’: Crows, otters and elk, oh my!

a sleek, brown and light tan river otter stretched out on glinting, white iceThe newest episode of the DNR Wildlife Division’s “Wildtalk” podcast is now available. February’s show includes a cheeky chat about river otters and a deep dive on the behaviors of crows, one of nature’s most intelligent creatures.

Scott Eggeman, the Wildlife Division’s field operations manager for the northern Lower Peninsula, talks about habitat work such as a grassland management program and food plot planning. DNR wildlife biologist Pete Kailing stops in with an overview of hunting and trapping opportunities available this month.

Visit the “Wildtalk” webpage for the February episode and show notes and links to past episodes. Questions about the podcast? Email [email protected].

Winter Bird Feeding 101: Follow these tips to keep birds safe

three birds, tan and white with dusty rose bellies, around a bright-yellow seed feeder hanging in an ice-covered, wintry treeTo survive Michigan’s frigid winter temperatures, some birds store food from feeders to eat later in winter, while others expand their food sources and change their diets.

Despite these incredible adaptations, winter can still be a stressful time for birds. We can help support winter birds by feeding them when other food sources may be scarce. Here are a couple of tips on how to feed them safely and responsibly in your space:

  • Keep your bird feeders and birdbaths fresh and clean throughout winter. Freshen the water every other day, if possible. Clean your feeders once every one to two weeks in a 9:1 solution that is nine parts water and one part bleach, scrubbing away any debris. Dry the feeder before refilling. Clean bird baths with a scrub brush in a 9:1 solution of water and vinegar.
  • Don’t place seed directly on the ground or use platform feeders, which tend to attract larger numbers of birds, deer and other unwanted guests. Mess-free birdseed options can help keep the ground clean.

These tips are important year-round, but especially now as the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus is still circulating among wild birds in Michigan. While most HPAI cases have been found in waterfowl and scavenging birds (e.g., eagles, hawks and owls), the DNR is continuing surveillance efforts and will test wild birds from die-offs that include six or more birds. You can help by reporting sick or dead birds through the DNR’s Eyes in the Field app.

Learn more about HPAI and what you can do to help limit the spread of this virus at the DNR’s HPAI Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

Visit the Audubon Great Lakes website for tips on attracting common winter birds to your space.

Questions? Contact the DNR’s Julie Melotti at 517-243-1953.

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program presented by Audubon Great Lakes and the Michigan DNR that works to build and bring together wildlife enthusiasts across the state to engage with and conserve Michigan’s public lands for the benefit of birds and people.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Lansing

A black bear among lush green grass, next to a large tree trunk in a sunny, forested areaThe next meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission – Thursday, Feb. 8, in Lansing – leads off with a Wildlife Committee agenda that includes an analysis of bear population trends and an update on the antler point restrictions survey. The meeting also will cover furbearer regulations, a legislative report and several land transactions.

The day starts at 9:30 a.m. in Rooms M119-121 of Lansing Community College, West Campus, 5708 Cornerstone Drive. See the draft meeting agenda and remaining 2024 meeting dates at

For more information or to request time to speak at the meeting, email [email protected].

This week on ‘Wardens’: Turkey hunt, illegally tagged deer

a male conservation officer in brown camo uniform with POLICE on the back talks to a hunter wearing orange cap outside a camo ground blindIt’s almost time for a new episode of “Wardens” – the Outdoor Channel’s weekly show that tells the story of dedicated DNR staff members and the work they do to protect and conserve Michigan’s natural resources.

This week’s show packs in a lot, including a turkey hunt with the DNR’s acting director and highway patrols that turned up some illegally tagged deer. Check out this sneak-peek video.

To get the Outdoor Channel, ask your local TV service provider or go to or Amazon Prime Video, or call 855-44-OUTDOOR. More than 78 episodes of “Wardens” have featured Michigan and tallied over 36 million viewers!

Episodes air on the Outdoor Channel every Friday at 9 p.m. Previous episodes air on FOX UP/WLUC-TV6 every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The show also is available under the title “Wardens of the North” or “Michigan Wardens” on Animal Planet.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Winter walk at Ludington

woman in winter gear, orange knit hat and boots walks down a snow-covered, wooden bridge over frozen, snowy waterway. Sun peeks through cloudsSee more pictures by Michigan state parks photo ambassadors at For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. (This photo is by Aubry Healy, for the Michigan DNR, at Ludington State Park in Mason County.)


Pine cone birdfeeder crafts, hot cocoa, winter hikes and more – enjoy family fun at Birds and Blooms Feb. 17 at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center!


Need to book a harbor slip, a campsite or a safari tent for an early-summer getaway? Visit the DNR reservations webpage for these and other options.


Removing invasive species and building wood duck nest boxes are just a few ways to help at upcoming MUCC On the Ground events. Find your favorite!

DNR News: Forest Health Highlights report

DNR News: Forest Health Highlights report

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DNR News

Jan. 31, 2024

Contact: Cheryl Nelson, 231-287-1714

DNR’s new Forest Health Highlights report showcases a year of collaboration, success

Crews survey for evidence of hemlock woolly adelgid on trees in West Michigan. During 2023, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources teamed up with local and federal partners to treat hemlock trees in six west Michigan counties against a tiny aphid-like invader, the hemlock woolly adelgid.

The team also has worked to identify and respond to detections of beech leaf disease in seven southeast Michigan counties.

But that’s just some of the work that the DNR’s forest health team did while striving to protect 20 million acres of forest land and urban trees from threats stemming from native and invasive plants, diseases and pests. The issues are compiled in the new “Forest Health Highlights” report, which looks at forest health trends in the state during 2023.

“The DNR’s forest health team works closely with local cooperative invasive species management area groups, or CISMAs, federal experts, researchers and many others to address issues that are new or ongoing,” said James Wieferich, forest health unit manager with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “Besides on-the-ground work, the Forest Health Program brings money into Michigan to help partners address forest health challenges and concerns across the state and in many cases, preventing rapid spread of new issues into the region.”

The goal: Keep Michigan’s forests healthy, productive and sustainable.

Progress is being made against the pest

Tiny white fluffy-looking ovisacs are the telltale sign of hemlock woolly adelgid. The battle against the hemlock woolly adelgid is one good example of the type of teamwork that takes place when Michigan’s forests are threatened. The tiny insect sucks sap from hemlock twigs, and ongoing infestations can weaken or kill host trees.

That threat means boots on the ground, first to find infestations, then to treat the trees. Over the past seven years, 12,468 acres and 231,429 trees have been treated as part of a strategy to keep the insect from spreading into northern forests. The good news: most of Michigan’s hemlock trees are many miles away from established HWA populations.

Over the past seven years, more than $6.5 million has been raised to respond to the insect, and efforts continue to be funded through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, Great Lake Restoration Initiative, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Recreation Passport (state park user fees), fundraising efforts supported by Bob Ross Inc. and other state funds.

The DNR’s forest health team also works with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to respond to recent detections of a similar insect, the balsam woolly adelgid, in Kent, Missaukee and Oceana counties.

Balsam woolly adelgid also has become a threat

Balsam woolly adelgid poses a threat to the roughly 1.9 billion balsam fir trees within their native range in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, as well as non-native Fraser and concolor firs. These fir species are important to Michigan’s Christmas tree industry. Producing nearly 13.5 million trees each year, Michigan is the country’s third largest Christmas tree grower.

Balsam woolly adelgid was detected in Michigan in August 2021, when officials at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development were notified of several infested Fraser firs in Kent County. No evidence of additional infestation was detected within the survey area, and the eight infested Frasier fir were cut and chipped in winter 2021. Follow-up surveys in late 2022 found no evidence of balsam woolly adelgid in Kent County.

However, in 2023, additional infestations likely resulting from separate introductions were detected in limited areas of Missaukee and Oceana counties. Infestations are currently being evaluated, and treatment plans will be implemented once completed.

You can help

Forest health professionals cover a lot of ground throughout the state, but they can’t be everywhere. The program relies heavily on reports from people who notice unusual insects or sick or dying trees. If you see something unusual or have concerns about trees in your area, use one of these methods to report it.

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Surveying: DNR crews spend winter months surveying for evidence of hemlock woolly adelgid infestation in west Michigan counties.
  • HWA ovisacs: This sprig of hemlock shows the small, fluffy white ovisacs – think Q-Tips – that can infect and kill hemlock trees.
DNR News Digest – Week of Jan. 29, 2024

DNR News Digest – Week of Jan. 29, 2024

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News Digest – Week of Jan. 29, 2024

three snowmobilers ride single file on a curved, snow-covered trail in the forest. Blue sky filters through tall, thin trees behind them.
Here are a few of this week’s stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of many of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

Video: 80 seasons and counting, Michigan hunter going strong

smiling, older man in orange and black camo hat and green plaid jacket holds a black rifle at window of a wood hunting blind“I’m William Kusey, Sr. I’m 94 years old, and I’m a hunter.”

So starts a new video from the DNR, capturing the words, wisdom and charm of a longtime Michigan hunter who hasn’t missed a firearm deer season opener in 80 years.

Kusey got his first buck at age 14 while hunting with his dad on opening day, a heart-pounding experience that he said has never faded.

“Even at my age,” he laughed, “my heart beats when I see a buck!”

Kusey’s recollections are part of the DNR’s Experiencing Michigan’s Outdoors video series, quick yet revealing looks at hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities through inspiring, personal stories.

If not for his brothers’ mentoring, Kusey said hunting might not be a part of his story. It was their encouragement that sparked a tradition that has grown to include deer and bear hunts – Kesey got his first bear in 1995, west of Copper Harbor, and followed that up with bear No. 2 in 2000, on the other side of Copper Harbor.

“To me, deer hunting was putting food on the table. I’ve hunted all my life, and I’ve really enjoyed every day of it,” he said. “There’s no better place in the world than to hunt in Michigan.”

Veteran hunters like Kusey are an important part of our state’s hunting heritage. Visit to learn about season/species opportunities, as well as simple ways – through mentoring and safety instruction – to share your knowledge and expertise with those just starting out.

If you’ve got ideas about other stories we can tell through video, email Brad Parsons at [email protected]. For questions about hunting opportunities and mentoring, email [email protected].

Embrace winter wonder with fun February events

a young boy in blue snowsuit touches a teal lantern on a pole in the snow, with a campfire and a few adults in winter gear in backgroundFebruary is filled with ways to make the most of winter and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources. Keep in mind that some programs are weather-dependent, and whenever you’re on or near water, use extreme caution around ice.

Hike and ski

Several state parks will host guided hikes – many with snowshoes, some by lantern light – and cross-country skiing events. See the DNR events calendar for dates, locations and other details.

Find some relaxation in Michigan’s northern woods with the Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoe Getaway at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon, taking place Feb. 2-4 and Feb. 9-11. Perfect for couples, friends or families, the all-inclusive weekend includes cabin-style lodging, meals, hot cocoa, snowshoe rentals and easy access to outdoor adventure and miles of evergreen-lined trails.

Ride and fish

We recognize that snow conditions may determine your ability to pull out the sleds, but when winter weather truly returns, a full weekend of free snowmobiling Feb. 9-11 is a great way to ignite (or reignite) your love of winter trail riding! Grab your friends and ride 6,000-plus miles of DNR-designated snowmobile trails, public roads and public lands (where authorized). You legally can ride all weekend long without the regular requirement of a snowmobile registration or trail permit!

During the winter Free Fishing Weekend, Feb. 17-18, enjoy fishing on inland and Great Lakes waters for free, with all license fees waived both days. All fishing regulations will still apply. It’s also a good time to visit state parks and boating access sites, as a Recreation Passport isn’t required for entry during Free Fishing Weekend. As always, consult before any on-ice activities.

Learn to ice fish from the pros with Hard Water School at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac, part of the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy. The Feb. 17-18 class will cover everything you need to know to get started, with a focus on techniques for panfish, walleye and pike. The advanced class Feb. 2-4 will dive deeper into specific ice-fishing topics. If the weather doesn’t cooperate to offer the on-ice portion of the class, things may move indoors for a fish fry (if there are enough students).

Birds and blooms

a black-capped chickadee, with tan body and black and grey-white wings, perches on a thin, ice-covered branch, snow in backgroundIf you’re in the Detroit area, check out the Outdoor Adventure Center event calendar for a variety of fun and educational programs for all ages, from kids to seniors, both indoors and outdoors. Don’t miss the Feb. 11 Birding Expo, where exhibitors from various local organizations will help new birders get started with this healthy, fun hobby.

Celebrate winter Birds and Blooms Feb. 17 with activities for the whole family at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center in Mattawan. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count bird walk, make pinecone bird feeders, find out how native plants benefit birds, and enjoy hot cocoa, cookies and more.

For a full list of DNR events, see find ideas to plan your own cold-weather adventure at

Help take care of state’s natural and cultural resources

If you’d like to get involved in the work the DNR does, read on for ways to help next month! For more opportunities to lend a hand and provide input, visit

State park stewardship

A dozen or so adults in winter coats and gear gather around a brown, rectangular state park entrance sign, with snow all aroundSeveral state parks in southern Michigan will host stewardship workdays, where volunteers are needed to help restore natural areas by removing invasive plants that threaten high-quality ecosystems. Workdays will take place:

  • 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 3, at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at Waterloo Recreation Area (Jackson County).
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, at Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, at Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County).
  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 10, at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County).
  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday Feb. 10, at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County).
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County).
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County).
  • 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 24, at Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County).
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County).

More details about each workday and how to register can be found on the DNR volunteer events calendar.

Campground and harbor hosts

If you love staying overnight in Michigan state parks and harbors, consider serving as a volunteer campground or harbor host – we’re currently accepting applications at many locations. Volunteer hosts help answer visitor questions, plan activities and help with light maintenance duties. In exchange, campsite and slip fees are waived. The total commitment is about 30 hours per week.

On the Ground habitat improvement

A man and a younger girl, both in bibs and winter jackets and orange knit caps, carry a long tree limb through heavy snowJoin On the Ground, Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ volunteer public-land wildlife habitat improvement program in partnership with the DNR, for upcoming projects. Gear, lunch, water and volunteer gifts will be provided.

Help create habitat for small mammals and game birds 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Bellevue Conservation Club in Eaton County. Take part in efforts to clean out and maintain current wood duck nest boxes and install new nest boxes 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 at Maple River State Game Area in Gratiot County. Build brush piles for woodcock 1:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at Port Huron State Game Area in St. Clair County.

Great Backyard Bird Count

You can help scientists better understand and protect birds around the world, while spending time birdwatching in your favorite places, by taking part in the global Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 16-19. Count birds in your backyard, a local park or wherever you spot them, and submit your observations online.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Mitten love at Tahquamenon

Shadowed outline of mitten hands forming Michigan's two peninsulas, backlit by a crackling orange campfire See more pictures by Michigan state parks photo ambassadors at For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. (This photo is by Jamie Ball, for the Michigan DNR, at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula.)

Share your thoughts with the DNR

Share your thoughts with the DNR

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DNR News

Cardinal standing on snowy ground.
Jan. 25, 2024

Share your thoughts with the DNR at upcoming meetings

The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing Michigan residents the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities.

One important avenue for this input is at meetings of the public bodies that advise the DNR and, in some cases, also set policies for natural and cultural resource management. Frequently check the DNR boards, commissions, committees and councils webpage for updates.

The links below will take you to the webpage for each group, where you will find meeting details such as location and agenda (when finalized). Please check these pages often, as meeting details may change and sometimes meetings are canceled.

February meetings